Just checked into the Miami Hampton Inn. The eighth and final week of this run is about to come to a close on All Hallows’ Eve. So here are a few haunted road stores for you ghosts and goblins…
Many moons ago, when the band was a fearless three-piece with my brothers-in-arms Jesse Rich and Billy Driver, we played and stayed at a few places that, as much as I would like to find a logical, scientific explanation for what happened … I simply cannot. And thanks to Billy, ghost hunter and international man of mystery, for helping me remember just how many places we encountered some paranormal activity. Do yourself a favor and check out Billy’s amazing ghost-hunting show Strange Town right here: http://strange-town.com/about-us/.
1. Monte Vista Hotel, Flagstaff, AZ
They keep a list of haunted rooms at the front desk. In one, Billy kept entering in the dark and his battery on his camera kept draining, no matter how full it was. All the light bulbs kept coming loose in the room we stayed in as well.
2. Hotel Hilton, Union Square, San Franciso
This was during a radio convention we played around 2010. It was right out of a movie. Our cell phones kept coming on and playing songs from our iTunes throughout the night. Also heard some crazy noises in our bathrooms, and every time we checked, no one was there and nothing was out of place.
3. Hilton Hyde Park, UK
This one sticks with me like yesterday because the UK is so old, everything feels about half-haunted anyway, and I love it. We stayed one floor down from the top, and all night there was furniture being dragged around directly above us. I finally got my earplugs deep enough and wireless headphones loud enough to fall asleep. The next a.m., I told the concierge about it, and she said with a deadpan look on her face, “Yeah, we hear that all the time. The room above you is an empty storage area. Come have a look.” Scout’s honor—there was nothing in that room.
Now, I realize every hotel has bumps in the nights (careful staying at airport hotels—people are in and out all day and night, and even the nice ones are usually worn out and LOUD), but these last couple are harder to explain…
4. Fort Collins, CO
My basement recording studio. One morning we had a brown-out, and all the equipment racks and Christmas lights hanging everywhere started flickering low and dark, just barely holding on. Running to the power outlet, I took a photo ’cause it looked so cool. When I saw the photo, there were orbs all over the room. Little round cocoon-looking ghosts that I never saw until the picture was taken.
Now for the final and best by far…
5. The Southgate House, Newport, KY
(now called the Southgate House Revival)
This last one is over the top but true nonetheless. The Southgate is an old Victorian mansion and one of the coolest venues we have ever laid eyes on—endless rooms, old bars with thick red velvet and creaking wood and leather, ornate, timeless, and haunted as hell. The promoter told us one of the best ghost stories I’ve heard, and the night proved to be even scarier than the folklore…
Southgate House’s sprawling front porch looks out over the Ohio River. The story goes that a woman waited on that porch for her husband to return from the Civil War. He was to arrive by boat to the very river in front of the house. (In my mind, this thing looks like Disney’s Mark Twain riverboat— a huge white double-decker from the antebellum era—this is simply my limited imagination at work.)
As the waiting woman watched in horror, the boat exploded into flames. She ran upstairs to the widow’s peak of the home and hung herself. In beautiful Shakespearean fashion, that was NOT the boat her husband arrived on. He gets to the house on the next boat in, searches everywhere for her, finally finds her hanging in the attic, and proceeds to kill himself in the exact same fashion—both of them now hanging from the tip-top of this wonderfully terrifying old home in their Sunday best, her in a huge red dress and him in his military outfit, blue and gold and not a thread out of place.
We were warned there had been several ghost sightings of the deceased lovers. We were told to watch the audience as we played, that many bands would see a man that looked completely out of time—in full dress uniform—sitting out in the old red felt cloth chairs, watching the show.
I didn’t see a thing. We get loaded up, have some drinks with the Southgate crew, and then comes the offer…
“Would you boys like to see where they died?”
Billy Driver raises his hand immediately—because he is both fearless and obsessed with hauntings.
Jesse, in typical James Dean fashion, says, “Yeah, why not?”
I say yes but feel a little spark of fear rising.
We head to the very back of the stage and open what looks like a trapdoor in the ceiling. Out of the dust and dark comes an ancient drop-down ladder that looks like it might support a five-year-old at best.
Billy doesn’t flinch. He puts his foot on the first rung, while Jesse and I line up behind him. Now, I don’t expect you folks to believe the next part, but as we climbed the little ladder, we heard faint talking that sounded directly out of the mid-1800s. I saw what seemed like a shimmering light move past the very top of the roof up above us. Now granted, the evening’s supply of Jack Daniels may have had a hand in my vision, and maybe the Southgate wired up this trick for gullible indie rock bands, but I immediately jumped back off the ladder.
Billy and Jesse went up but didn’t stay long. They came down yelling, “Ohhhhhhh, Goobie, it’s for real up there!!”
We got outta there fast.
As we left, I had to look away from seeing all the old red empty seats in the vast theater—because there, in the dark, I swear I witnessed a translucent, mistlike figure of a man sitting alone in full dress Civil War garb.
Happy Halloween and thanks for joining me. More blogs every couple of weeks. Love you hooligans.
Gooding writes a new post most Wednesdays. Please like and subscribe on all social media sites with @goodingmusic. You can also subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed athttp://goodingmusic.com/blog/feed/.
Photo by the amazing Syd Pitt.